Le Pen Concedes as Macron Heads to Second Term

French President Emmanuel Macron is projected to win a comfortable victory for the presidency, with the centrist cruising to a second term as polls close across France in Sunday’s closely watched runoff election.

After a divisive election campaign, Macron, 44, is expected to win a projected 58.2% of the vote after polling suggested a closer race than previously believed against Marine Le Pen, a voice for the French right and fierce critic of Macron’s globalist proclivities, according to French exit polls. Macron will be the first French president to win a second term since Jacques Chirac in 2002.

Le Pen conceded to her competitor just after 8 p.m. local time in France, ahead of the polling agencies calling the contest, saying the results were a “sparkling victory,” after opponents deemed her party dead. “Long live the Republic and long live France,” Le Pen said in her concession speech.

Around 28% of French voters abstained from voting in the second round on Sunday, up 2.5% from the 2017 presidential election, early numbers suggested, according to France24.

Macron topped Le Pen in the first round of voting earlier this month, remaining mostly absent from the campaign as he dealt with France’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As polls showed Le Pen closing the gap, Macron shifted his strategy, campaigning across portions of northern France ahead of the second round of voting.

In his last appeal to voters, Macron hailed himself as the protector of democratic values, calling the election a “referendum for or against a secular, united, indivisible Republic,” according to the Associated Press.

As leader of the party he founded, “La Republique En Marche!,” Macron ran his reelection platform on promises to make France a more self-sufficient country, outlining plans to bolster the country’s agricultural and industrial independence, build more nuclear reactors, and strengthen the French military.

Reporting from The Washington Examiner.